Food Coalition

Integrating rural-urban linkages and food system governance in intermediate urban areas

The intermediate and small cities in Latin America are growing, their food basin incorporates rural areas where food is produced, services are provided, and jobs are created, for a food system that does not stop.

600 million people live in Latin America, only 100 million live in cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. The rest of the population, 500 million, live in intermediate cities, towns and villages, and it is estimated that 45% of the municipalities in the Region have up to 500,000 inhabitants and consume up to 70% of the food supply (FAO, 2019a). The urban area of a region has an influence in the rural territory, which stimulates markets, partnerships and innovation, leveraging public and private investment, facilitating the articulation of productive initiatives and generating direct links with national policy (FAO, 2019a).

Food security, nutrition, food safety, and quality are essential objectives of the food system, in times of crisis ensuring its stability is the key.

In a recent survey carried out by FAO on impacts to the food system and municipal response to COVID-19 (FAO, 2020), small and intermediate cities coincide in emerging phenomena such as the return of population from large cities to rural municipalities, rising food prices, shortage of basic foods and risk of increased food insecurity in the most vulnerable population. All agree that promoting a local food system, with schemes to articulate supply and demand with biosafety standards, would facilitate recovery from the pandemic and promote healthier eating and a more dynamic local economy.

The youth from rural areas and small and intermediate cities look for opportunities, as well as entrepreneurs and actors from the entire food system, who seek to improve and incorporate nutrition and sustainability objectives in their actions.

Digital innovations and technologies can be part of the solution. The so-called "fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), is causing a rapid transformation in various sectors due to revolutionary digital innovations such as blockchain technology, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and immersive reality (FAO, 2019). These new technologies are improving smallholder access to information, inputs, and markets, financing, and training. Digital technologies are creating new opportunities to integrate small farmers into a digitally based agri-food system (USAID, 2018).

However, the mayors and their technical teams demand technical assistance to address problems for which they currently have little capacity, including migration / population growth (5 - 7% per year), food insecurity, droughts, contamination, poverty / indigence, all aggravated by COVID-19.

Likewise, access to healthy food at the local level is limited because producers and consumers are disconnected by multiple intermediation chains, in addition to the lack or dispersion of market information, supply, consumption preferences and use of surpluses (FAO, 2017).

Priority Areas of work: Food Systems Transformation
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Level: Regional
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Country: Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Peru
Budget: USD 30 million


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